Md. sues EPA over out-of-state emissions

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2017

Maryland launched a lawsuit today aimed at forcing U.S. EPA to crack down on ozone-forming emissions from out-of-state power plants.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the suit asks a judge to compel EPA to act on the state’s petition from last November alleging that 19 power plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia must do a better job of limiting releases of nitrogen oxides that contribute to ozone formation (Greenwire, Nov. 17, 2016).

Maryland has three areas listed in nonattainment for EPA’s 2008 ground-level ozone standard of 75 parts per billion, the suit says, and expects federal regulators to also designate three nonattainment areas for the more stringent 70 ppb standard set two years ago.

By EPA’s projections, pollutants from the five states “will continue to contribute significantly to Maryland’s inability to comply” with the standards, even after full implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule update for the 2008 ozone threshold.

Under the law, EPA was supposed to act on the November petition within 60 days, but then gave itself a six-month extension. That deadline has also passed without action, according to news releases from the Maryland Department of the Environment and state Attorney General Brian Frosh (D).

“We strongly urge the EPA to approve the petition and enforce the air pollution controls, already in place in Maryland, at upwind out-of-state facilities that threaten the health of Maryland citizens and our economy,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement.

Frosh, in a separate statement, said the suit followed the failure of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop the violations.

“This federal law is supposed to protect everyone against the harm of breathing polluted air,” Frosh said, “so the federal government must ensure that power plants everywhere be held accountable.”